tv John Mc Laughlins One on One PBS September 9, 2012 9:00am-9:30am PDT
scientists tell us that today's u.s. 21st century medical technology will swell the ranks of our se 100-year-olds. how can we res vekt a vigorous maturity from a negative stereotype of decrepit old age? what can we do to make sure our brains stay as vital as o bodies? we will ask best selling author, neurologist and neuropsychologist dr. richard restak. >> dr. richard restak, welcome,
and you are now on the air. this is book we're going to be referring to "the longevity strategy" how to live to live to 100 using the brain-body con dmeks. we might make reference to the magazine you are affiliated, which i think is the child of david mahoney and his philanthropy. >> yes, that's correct. >> did you? >> he had been chairman of canada dry. >> yes. then he tkn interest in the brain. >> yes. >> and he founded dana. >> dana lives, yes. >> dana. well, this is an extremely interesting subject. tell me what is the essence of the brain-body connection and how can our brains help us live longer lives? >> well, the brain and the body are interconnected in such a way that you really can't divide one
from the other. if somebody comes in here and yellthe wor fire, we're going to get excited and run out. it's because that particular word goes into our ears, to the brain, and causes chemical changes and suddenly we're alerted and on our feet. there is the connection at all times. the brain is part of the body. >> does our overall health depend on the activity of the brain, and will it affect metabolic levels or hormone levels? >> absolutely. there are certain levels of brain activity that will cause the heart to slow up or increase. >> how about metabolism? >> metabolism as well. >> almos hormones? >> hormones obviously will be changed as well, because in the example i used, you will be kicking out stress hormones because you will be trying to get out of the buildel because somebody said it was on fire. >> what does research show regarding chronic stress, would you mention that? >> chronic stress is bad for you.
you have to many times try to reframe it. they say one person's stress is another person's challenge but stress is the constant feeling of being overburdened, that you can't come up to the tack and things like. that. >> does it affect the heart? >> exactly, yes. >> seriously? >> it can. >> people have a tendency towards heart disease and stress will bring it on. >> do you think it plays as much of a role in trouble for the heart as does smoking? stress? >> well, smoke something worse. stress is not probably as bad as that. smoking is the worst for the heart but stress is important. >> are there those who say that stress is as important or more important than smoking in terms of the debilitatg iact on the heart? >> it's a different type of stress. i mean, if you're taking constant feeling of being under stress, and the word chronic, if you really have to underscore it, because we're all under stress now and again. if you have a chronic feeling of
being stressed, it is bad for the heart because hormones are kicked out. >> does stress constrict the blood vessels? >> yes, it can. you can have people who have constriction of the blood vessels of the heart who have normal ekg's and things like. that. >> how about anger? >> well, we found that depression, social isolation and anger are three of the factors that seem to have a bad effect on longevity and general health and brain health. >> does anger produce metabolic changes? >> absolutely. your blood pressure goes up, you get a flushed face. you can tell a person is angry because of the bodily changes, the body-mind connection we're talking about. >> well, we are rational animals, are we not? >> up to a point. >> you mean the rational side or animal side? >> i think the rational side. >> you think we're more animal than rational? >> i think sometimes we put too much time on rationality. i think there has been a lot of
tests that show people are really not logical. >> when one is angry or raging -- >> yes. >> then the animal flight syndrome, i guess you would call. >> flight or fight. >> flight or fight comes into play. >> correct. >> and that produces bodily physiological behavior. >> correct. >> what is it? >> the changes in the heart. the heart rate goes faster. your blood pressure goes up. you breathe faster. sweat more, have an interior feeling of being stressed, as we talked about. >> when we're raging or when we are angry, we're like an animal either getting ready to fight or getting ready to flee? >> that's correct, yeah. >> so that affects -- does it affect endocrinology, too? >> it affects all of that. you have the part of the brain called the frontal cortex to try to inhibit it to say there is nothing to get upset about.
our whole day is getting feelings and handling them by the frontal lobe of the brain that says calm down, everything will pass. >> you can argue that it's draining, and therefore good. drainage, get rid of it, share it? >> well, remember the primal scream thepy, let it all out? >> yes. >> the thing about letting it all out, you hurt other people's feelings, you ruin relationships. i don't think that the expression of anker is necessarily good, because it tends to cascade and it gets worse. >> you're on the cutting edge of brain research, are you not? >> i try to follow up on all the brain research that is done, yes. >> you're neurologist. >> neurology and neuropsychology, yes. >> what is neurology? >> the study of the brain, nervous system. >> why do they call it neurology? >> because with neurons, 19ingth century somebody came up with the term because it was actually limited to the brain and you can think about neurology as the study of neurons and the study of the 200 billion neurons connected together into the
brain. >> how much does the brain weigh? >> a couple of pounds, two or three pounds. >> what is its consistency? >> consistency. we can argue about. that it is like jell-o. >> jell-o! >> tapioca pudding. >> soft. >> really? that's why you have that bone there. you have three coverings of the brain. >> cranium? >> yeah. >> three coverings? >> well, the bone, and below that you have a covering and all the names are taken from latin. >> is the cranium of a male different from the cranium of a female? >> not as such. it is different according to body size a bigger person has a big are brain and bigger cranium. >> it's not fair to say that the cranium of a male is thicker than the cranium of a female? >> i wouldn't think of it that way. i couldn't guarantee it, but i don't think so, no. >> now, do you have techniques whereby you can see the brain
and actually identify those regions of the cortex -- what is the cortex? >> the cortex is the outer rhind. it is just a couple millimeters thick. >> on all sides? >> it's all around the cerebral hemisphere, yes. >> but there's an underside to the brain. >> there is. >> what is it shaped like? >> think of a boxing glove. you look at a boxing glove and the outer part is this wrinkled part of the glove and inside is a pem porl pole and under this we have the sub cortical area, basil ganglia area. but the thinking part is the cerebral cortex. >> you can eye dent regions of the brain, sections of the brain that are in play during various human cognitive thinking activities? >> yes, you can, yes. >> of what use is that? >> well, because you can then tell about how something is correlated. you can make these correlations if someone has sort of a
problem. you know where to look for the problem. you also can study something like, take, for instance, dyslexia, people who have trouble with reading, by knowing what parts of the brain are involved in the normal reading process that helps you to understand dyslexia. >> can you look inside the brain? >> you can look inside of it in surgy, but you can't do that normally, so you have pet scans, mri scans, cat scans. >> what's the best scans to see as much as you can deeply into the brain? >> it depends if you want to see structure or function. if you want to see structure, mr . function, meaning what's happening, look at pet scans or functional mri's, but to demonstrate looking at geography and looking at what is happening. >> so you do a lot of that? >> yeah, we do both of them, yes. >> that's neurology. >> that's neurology, uh-huh. >> your contention is that the average life-span is not only increasing, but you recommend that we consider our life-span
in terms of becoming 100 years old, is that right? >> yes, that's certainly a good possibility. >> well, the statistics are on your side. there are more today, as we learned from studies. we will get to that in a moment. >> there's supposed to be 9 or 10 million by 2030. >> are we talking usa or world? >> mostly usa. we're talking about the developed countries. >> how many are there today? >> about 3.8 million. >> three or four million? >> well, people over 85. if you want to know the actual number of people that are 100, no, we don't have that number. >> well, the british isles did that computation, england and wales did, and i can get that in this note that i have here in a moment. what's the social implications of rethinking how we envion old age?
>> it gets rid of stereotypes, which influence how people behave. there is a famous study that shows if the psychologist is testing somebody sort of takes the attitude well, you're not going to do well because you're old or your memory is going to do poorly, well, the person will do poorly. if they take the attitude, look, you have a lot of life experiences, you're wise, intelligent, nobody will perform better. there is feeack. ageism has a negative effect on performance. >> as we do in a cultural environment in which age is stereotyped, right? >> yes. >> then you will conform willy-nilly to that stereotype, if you're supposed to be fragile at the age 80. >> yes. >> then you become fragile. >> exactly. >> if you think, however, that your's going to be living to the age 100, then you shatter the stereotype and you don't conform to it, and you're healthier?
>> you are. >> you actually affect your health? >> you affect your health by your attude. donald palmer has the oldest thing in the world that we are as a result of what we think. >> this is all the brain? >> of course. >> all a result of cognition. >> cognition, that's right. cognition is just a $10 word for thinking and all the aspects of thinking. >> can i use $10 words on this? >> yes. >> now, you know that nih, national institutes for health or of health. >> national institutes of metal. >> they -- of health. >> they just had within summary past couple of weeks they had a big meeting and ty tked about how your mental state actually affects your physical health, correct? >> yes. >> were you there? >> i wasn't at that one, no. i was out of town, in europe. >> do you know whether they discovered anything new or were they just kind of ventilating this in the interest of public education? >> not having been there, i wouldn't want to declare anything, but it sounded like it
was a group of people together to bring us up to date to where we stand on this. this is a valuable thing to do. >> are they sa saying that age doesn't mean the same thing today that it meant 20, 3 40 years ago? >> it's absolutely different. look at the way -- you see people in their 80's -- in fact, anthony store the other day, famous british psychologist who died at age 80 was giving a lecture at oxford at the university there. he was one of the fellows. he was 80 years old and has continued to be active, writing books. >> how do do you spell his name? >> storr. >> that leads me to another man who lived over 100 and at certain periods inis life, in order to move from one activity or avocation to another, we can get into that in a moment, because you are a favor of avocations, are you not? >> yes. >> not to be confused with hunting.
>> that's correct. >> you are concerned that when your brain is used that, keeps the brain healthy? >> no question about it. look at grandma moses. she started painting at 77 and lived to be 103. >> this gentleman's name was saure. he not only changes avocations but after a certain numr of years he would change his name. you think that's carrying things too far? >> i think if he was starting off with a clean slate -- >> in order to live longer, should people avoid retirement? we'll answer that question in a moment but first here is a profile of our distingui born women ming ton, delaware, 59 years of age, wife carol and three children. republican. roman catholic. gettysburg college ba. georgetown university, m.d. and georgetown university medical scol, associate professor, ten years. george washington university, clinical professor of neurology, ten years.
14 books, including most recently mysteries of the mind. richard martin restak. >> dr. restak, you have had quite an extraordinary career. first of all, you taught at georgetown. >> yes. >> then you abandoned the jesuits or did they dump you? then you moved over to g.w. >> yes. >> do you still teach inta at georgetown? >> i'm in the faculty but spend most of my time at g.w. >> okay. i have that number, by the way, and england and wales, out of every millionth person born alive in 1880, only 223 could expect to be alive 100 years later. 1880. so that's 112 years from now. 110, about that. for those born in 1990, out of one million people, 8,710 can expect to be alive 100 years
later, 40 times greater. infants born in 2025 can expect to live 100 years. >> well, we should have cancer and heart disease, the big killers, under better control by that time, because people don't really die of brain disease. it is from other organs failing. >> and those organs can be maintained in improved health if the brain is servicing them well, which means, i guess, what is the healthiest condition is to be happy. >> absolutely. i mean, you've got to have a certain level of being happy and satisfied, not self-satisfied but satisfied with your life. >> you say that, but do you see that in action? >> in some cases, yes. >> i think that is the one thing 100-year-olds have in common, the one thing that they have in common, they do have a sense that there is a time and place for this and feel a sense of
accomplishment. >> do they have a positive titude? >> they have a positive attide. the less of these three things isolation, depression and hostility, and they have a feeling that things should be still -- goals, they set up goals for themselves even in their 90's. >> are they ochts mystic? >> yes. optimism is a very big part of it as well. >> some of them smokers an some of them non-smokers? >> most of them are non-smokers. unfortunately, there are vom people who can smoke into their 90's and they are okay. i'm always bothered by that because i think other people might think that is an indicator they can smoke. i think it is a genetic thing. we have genes. we can't deny the genetic disposition. long-lived people have children who live longs. >> are there drinkers and non-drinkers who would be 100? >> yes. >> in that case, you would conclude that the reason why they live is genetics. >> genetics plays a big role, that's correct. >> but you're telling me that you're going beyond genes now,
or in a different direction from genes. you're saying that their longevity is also controlled by the actively of the brain. >> yes. >> not by concentration. >> yes. >> by what? >> by the things that they're interested in. you have changed -- theenes can be altered, just like we give drugs for depression, the drugs go in there and eventually alter the genetic programming through the messages that are sent out through the genes. >> what drugs do you give out for depression? >> various ones. one is levaxer and other drugs? >> prozac? >> prozac, paxil, zoloft, the whole raft of them, and there are rother antidepressants. >> you sound like you know your drugs. >> well, i'm a psych -- psychopharmacology is one of my big interests? >> yes. >> it can change somebody for the better. you think someone will be suicidality and with the use of these medications they want to live again.
it's very gratifying. it used to be that psychotherapy was all talk. talk, talk, talk, talk. then it moved into chemicals. >> yes. >> such as you have listed. >> yes. >> it was mostly chemicals. i can remember interviewing a woman by the name of leah who arte leer's magazine and she said when she took lithium it really made the difference and all of that tal 1-866-331-tal 1-866-331-talk talk didn't do that much for her but that is not the view today. the view today is, you tell me if i'm wrong, you talk and you take the pill; that right? >> most of the studies show the best effect is a combination of psychotherapy or talk and the medication. i happen to think medication plays the biggest role. on the other hand, we are symbolic creatures. we talk. we use language and want to express how we feel. it's important. that's not as sufficient once people have the biological
problems where they can't sleep and they don't want to eat, things like. that then they need the medications. >> so you think the medication is more efficacious than the talk? >> for certain people, yes. >> for certain people? >> yes. >> what about averages? >> i still think in most depressions, they're biological and the medication is the most important component of it. >> do you think that we only have seen the tip of the iceberg of pharmocologicalarm so psychologica -- farm mow psychological medicine? >> i do we are only dealing with four or five neurotransmitters and we have 40 or 50. >> you don't have the chemicals for those? >> no. >> but they're going to come? >> sure. >> and then there will be cocktails. >> yes. >> one cocktail and then try this dosage and that dosage? >> we would like to design what i call designer drugs. the publisher didn't like that name, but design a drug for the specific person so that
everybody has a specific -- if you use a cocktail of combination of the various drugs. >> this sounds very mech canistic. >> well, we are biological creatures. it does not mean that we're also spiritual creatures and ethical creatures. we have a brain sitting inside the skull and we have to address t. >> you say that these chemicals can change, modify, alter, nuance the gene itself? >> eventually, yes. as time goes on, yes. >> does is the brain irreplaceable? >> you can't substitute it. there is no transplant. you can't transplant a brain. >> are you sure that won't happen some day? >> it won't. there is no way you could do that. it would be too difficult to imagine, but parts of brains could be put from one to another. if you did, you would transfer one personality to another personality. the personality is embedded in the brain. >> well, the brain, the biggest
part of the head is about the size of the head, right? >> yes. >> what is the smallest part of the brain you could take out and put back in? >> you would want to take a part out that would be powerful, like the experiments where they have done implants of dopamine cells. there is an example. you take some cells in and put them into another brain. >> have you seen much stroke? >> yes. >> have you seen an increase in the incidence of stroke? >> strokes have decreased in incidence along with the decrease in hypertension and heart disease but it is still the third biggest killer in the united states. there is more talk about stroke. >> there is more treatment for it, too. >> why are they talking about it? >> because they can prevent it. talking about stroke is a preventive thing we have for heart attacks and now we have one for stroke. you try to diagnose it early. sometimes you can treat it very early.
>> third biggest killer? >> something like. that >> . >> have you heard of a sound stroke? >> yes. it -- >> have you heard of a silent stroke? >> it means somebody doesn't really know. >> it is eye sent. >> they do a cat scan or mri and see signs that there was death of brain tissue. >> how bad? >> it depends. you have a thing where somebody has, like, dementia, which is dementias are a big $10 word for senility. >> can a silent stroke be a big stroke? >> no >> silent by definition means it's unobserved? >> that's right. it doesn't show up clinically. >> it doesn't show up clinically or behaviorally? >> well, it will show up behaviorally. >> how? >> they will lose interests in things, sit in a room and not talk. >> how about dizziness? >> it could be a sign of anything, a sign of regular or silent stroke. >> how do you learn whether you are stroke prone?
>> family history, whether you're hypertensive, whether you have heart disease. >> how about the testing here where the blood gets up to the brain. >> right. >> what do they call that? >> ka rod -- carotid artery. >> should an ultrasound be done? >> if people have an ischemic attack, they may have a carotid artery collusion. >> do you think that exam should be done regularly? >> i don't think it should be done unless you have symptoms. >> are you going to charge me for this? the -- now, the stroke i not the first step towards alzheimer's, is it? >> no, it is a totally different thing is that a universal opinion in your profession, or is it thought to be that the stroke is the first step in a continuum that marches on irresistibly to alzheimer's? >> you could have combinations 678 in fact, that's probably the
most common thing. >> in your book, the longevity strategy, you argue against retirement. what do you say about it? >> well, in that book with dave mahoney, we talk about the fact that you have to stay alive and have to stay interested and focused and things like. that look at these people, these retirement communities, getting up -- how many games of golf you can play? you have to stay interested. >> you're not talking about maintaining the existing sauce of your lively looked right through age 10o you are talking about what? >> avocation. >> what is avocation? >> a serious interest in something, take up art, an interest in art when you're in your 30's or 40's. you have to start the avocation early. >> you are convinced that that will extend life? >> absolutely. it will certainly extend mental clarity. >> watching t.v. in the retirement center in a cushy seat with your feet up having food brought to you is not good? food brought to you is not good?